When your baby is bawling his eyes out, it’s nothing to worry about and it does not mean that you are a bad mum. At this stage, crying is just his way of communicating. “Crying is part of your newborn baby’s language – it’s his way of communicating. When he cries he’s telling you how he feels and what he needs at that moment in time,” says Siobhan Mulholland, author of Coping with Crying and Colic .
Wondering what all those tears mean? Read out guide to find out…
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“At this age your baby will be spending longer periods awake,” says Siobhan. “And by
6 months he may be awake for 10 out of 24 hours, mostly during the day, which means he has a lot more time on his hands so will need occupying for longer.”
What to do:
It’s a good idea to alternate play with rest, as a baby who is entertained for too long will get tired. Put a mobile in your baby’s cot for when he’s resting and offer lots of toys that encourage exploration when he’s awake.
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With your baby’s quest for new experiences comes a lot of frustration. “In attempting to reach out for things he’ll undoubtedly have moments of real frustration,” says Siobhan.
“As he lunges forward from his sitting position in an attempt to pick things up he’s likely to fall flat on his tummy a few times – each with a loud cry.”
What to do:
“Let your baby try and accomplish things he wants to have a go at. For example, if he’s on his tummy let him try and lift himself up to crawl, as it’s part of learning how to do it, but recognise when he’s getting too tired,” says Anne.
Could your baby’s constant crying be colic?
A baby on the move is bound to bump himself at some point – leading to tears.
“When your baby first starts to hurt himself, he’ll probably scream very loudly – not only because he’s injured, but also because he’s had a bad fright,” says Siobhan.
What to do:
Child-proof your home as much as possible so you can reduce the amount of accidents. Be aware though that you can’t plan for every eventuality, so get a first-aid kit for those little bumps and bruises.
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At around 6 months, your baby will start to display signs of separation anxiety. “He’ll make it clear that he doesn’t like you not being around by crying when you leave the room and being more clingy,” says Siobhan.
“Separation anxiety is a very normal part of development – it shows that your baby’s starting to become aware of who he is, and who you are.”
What to do:
“If you have to leave your baby with someone else get him ready by introducing them beforehand and have a few practice runs before the real event – leave for five minutes and come back, then 10 minutes, and so on,” says Anne. “And always say goodbye.”
You might find you can read your baby’s cues that he’s about to cry – facial expressions, pulling his ears or rubbing his noses can all be signs tears are on the way.
“I’ve found Tracey Hogg’s Secrets of the Baby Whisperer really helpful. According to her book newborns have a three-hour cycle – feed in the first, awake in the second and sleep in the third and so on. I can work out Niamh’s cries by knowing where she is in her cycle. If she’s crying near the end of her awake time, she’s probably tired so I’ll pop her down for a nap. Otherwise, if it’s been roughly three hours since her last feed, she’s probably hungry.”
Anna Hargreaves, from London, mum to Isla, 2, and Niamh, 8 weeks